The Queensland Museum Expedition to Ngiangu (Booby Island): Rock art, archaeology and inter-regional interaction in South-Western Torres Strait


  • Liam M. Brady Monash Indigenous Centre, Monash University
  • Warren Delaney Queensland Museum
  • Richard Robins Everick Heritage Consultants Pty Ltd



In 1985 and 1990 a Queensland Museum research team visited the island of Ngiangu (Booby Island) to carry out investigations into the island’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous archaeology. Forming the western boundary of Kaurareg traditional country, this small rocky island is an integral part of Kaurareg identity, and is well-known in maritime archaeology circles as a haven for European mariners shipwrecked while transiting the Strait. The research team, led by the late Ron Coleman, undertook rock art recording (including European historical writing), limited archaeological excavations, geological research and collected material culture objects from numerous shoreline caves. This paper reports on the archaeological outcomes of this project and reassesses earlier interpretations of the rock art record in the context of inter-regional interaction. The results indicate that cultural markers associated with the island reflect a local Kaurareg identity, as well as broader regional interaction with neighbouring Torres Strait Islander and Cape York Aboriginal groups.